Cambridge University Library

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Cambridge University Library
Cambridge University Library Building
Cambridge University Library Main Building

founding 15th century (before 1416)
Duration approx. 8 million media units
Library type University library
place Cambridge ,
operator University of Cambridge
management Jessica Gardner

The Cambridge University Library ( German  Cambridge University Library ) is the centrally managed library of the University of Cambridge in England.

It consists of five separate parts: the university library in the main building, the medical library , a part named after Betty and Gordon Moore as a repository for works of mathematical and scientific content , the central scientific library (formerly the repository for scientific journals) and the legal library . The old schools of the university near the Senate House were used as storage locations until there was no longer enough space and a new building had to be built in the west of the city. The spacious new location on the west end of the center of town is almost across from Robinson College.


The main features of the library already existed in the 15th century. In 1416 William Loring left some books with the words:

"Item volo quod omnes libri mei juris civilis remaneant in communi libraria scolarium universitatis Cantebrigg 'in perpetuum."

- Loring

This collection of legal documents forms the basis of the library. The earliest surviving catalog dates from around 1424. From the 16th century onwards, the library received several generous donations and parts or entire libraries from private individuals were integrated into the university library. In addition, the increase in the library holdings was also lastingly influenced by the privilege of having a deposit copy library .


The building was erected between 1931 and 1934 by the architect Giles Gilbert Scott and stylistically adapted to the construction of the adjacent courtyard with the Clare Memorial (as part of Clare College ), and kept in the style of the industrial architecture of the Bankside Power Station . Its tower is 48 meters (157 feet) tall, 1.8 meters (6 feet) shorter than the top of St. John's College Chapel, but towers above the top of the famous King's College Chapel by 3 meters (10 feet). The library has been expanded several times. In the main building, the Japanese and Chinese collections are kept in the Aoi Pavilion , an extension for which Tadao Aoi provided the funds and which opened its doors to the public in 1998.


In total, the university library contains 5.5 million books and brochures as well as more than 1.2 million journals. As a library of legal deposit it receives, without having to pay a fee, a copy of a majority of all books, newspapers, printed plans and musical works that are published in the UK and Ireland under copyright. Unlike the British Library , Cambridge University Library - like the Bodleian Library , the National Library of Scotland , the Welsh National Library and the Trinity College Library in Dublin - have to request deposit copies from publishers. To this end, the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries was launched in 2009.


It is open to all students and employees of the university (before the academic year 2010, the use of the library for students in the first and second academic year, as well as assistants, was limited to access to the reference library and borrowing was prohibited; since September 2010, all students can also use items borrow). As is customary in UK university libraries, access for graduates and academics from other UK universities with research assignments is limited to the reference collections. For the general public, access is linked to the submission of a reference letter and the payment of a fee. As in only a few other libraries with deposit copies, it is possible for some user groups to borrow works from these holdings. Since the individual colleges and institutes of Cambridge have their own library collections for students in the early stages, the Cambridge University Library has a primary function of reference.


In 2002, the university started a project named after the Roman god Janus to create standardized digital access to the archive catalogs and manuscript collections of the various sub-institutions. Non-university institutions in the region also participate. The project is divided into two stages: stage 1 comprised the website and its infrastructure, stage 2 u. a. creating a search. The project is at the end of stage 2 (as of 2020).

Library clerk

Some of the library staff are academics and scholars, for whom there is a window within the library building in which their publications are displayed. Most students use the abbreviation “UL” to denote the library.

Jessica Gardner has been the director since April 2017. Anne Jarvis was director from 2009 to 2017.

Well-known librarians

Well-known librarians included Abraham Wheelocke in the 17th century, Augustus Theodore Bartholomew , the classicist Alwyn Faber Scholfield (1884–1969) from 1923 to 1949. More recently, these have been EB Ceadel, Frederick Willian Ratcliffe (1980–1994) and Peter Fox ( 1994-2009). Other notable librarians were the bibliographer Henry Bradshaw and the poet Charles Edward Sayle (1864–1924), author of a history of the library.


  • Peter Fox: Cambridge University Library: the Great Collections. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998, ISBN 0-521-62636-6 (Paperback ISBN 0-521-62647-1 ).
  • JCT Oates: Cambridge University Library: a History; [Vol. 1]: From the beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne. Cambridge: University Press, Cambridge 1986, ISBN 0-521-30656-6 .
  • David McKitterick: Cambridge University Library: a History; [Vol. 2]: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cambridge: University Press, Cambridge 1986 ISBN 0-521-30655-8 .
  • Charles Sayle: Annals of Cambridge University Library 1278-1900. Cambridge University Library, Cambridge 1916. Online edition (PDF; 7.9 MB)

Inventory descriptions

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Charles Sayle: Annals of Cambridge University Library 1278-1900. Cambridge 1916, p. 11
  2. ^ Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
  3. ↑ Terms of use and access , English, accessed on August 29, 2017
  4. About Janus. University of Cambridge , accessed May 21, 2020 .
  5. Cambridge welcomes Dr. Jessica Gardner
  6. ^ Graeme Paton: Cambridge University appoints first female librarian. In: The Telegraph, January 26, 2009 , accessed March 26, 2011

Web links

Commons : Cambridge University Library  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 52 ° 12 ′ 18.6 ″  N , 0 ° 6 ′ 29 ″  E